Sourdough Pretzels!

I love pretzels; hard pretzels, soft pretzels, big ones, little ones, sticks, twists, it doesn't matter.  Coat them in cinnamon sugar and white chocolate, yum!  Dip them in white or dark chocolate, yum.

A while back I found a fantastic recipe for soft pretzels.  These are REALLY good!  And better yet they are really easy to make.  Here's my blog post if you are interested.  

I also love sourdough.  I make sourdough bread every other month or so.  I make sourdough pancakes.  Have you ever had sourdough lemon pancakes?  If you haven't you're missing out!  I need to blog about those... maybe I'll make them tomorrow!

What piqued my interest about this recipe was not only that it was sourdough pretzels, but that I didn't need fed sourdough to make them!  I could use my starter right our of the refrigerator.

Here is a link to the recipe:

The recipe was pretty simple, mix all the dough ingredients and let them rest.  There was one ingredient I didn't have, nor is it one I stock in my pantry, non-diastatic malt powder.  I've heard of this before but really had no idea what it was.  And the recipe said that sugar was an adequate substitute so I just used that.

What is non-diastatic malt powder?  Let's start with malt powder, not to be confused with malted milk!  Malt powder imparts a sweetness to baked goods.  It also makes them browner and shinier.  Diastatic malt powder is allowed to develop enzymes which digest starches into sugar.  This makes sweeter, smoother and higher rises in the baked goods.  Non-diastatic malt powder on the other hand, does not have enzymes but still adds flavor and shiny appearance to baked goods.

So I used sugar.  I mixed up all the ingredients and let them rest 45 minutes.

Here's where I started to question the recipe.  Good bagels get dipped in lye.  These got brushed with sugar water.  Good bagels get an egg wash.  These are brushed in sugar water.  I'm of the Danny Klecko school of baked goods, get them in a HOT oven.  My traditional pretzels are baked at 500 F.  These are baked at 350 F.

After the 45 minutes the pretzels are shaped then put in the oven.

So here is where I diverted from the recipe for half of the pretzels.  Half I followed the recipe.  Half I dipped in my "homemade lye" solution and brushed with an egg wash.  I also baked them at 400 F, a compromise between the 350 in the recipe and 500 of my favorite pretzel recipe.

You be the judge.

I thought not only did the lye dipped, egg washed pretzels look better they tasted better.  The others were bland and doughy while the egg washed ones had great texture and bite.

The verdict?  Well, maybe I need some non-diastatic malt powder?  Maybe that's why the ones in the recipe looked so much nicer than mine?  Or maybe I just stick with a recipe I know works.  It was fun to try though!

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